CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Paul Pierce is sure the high-priced Nets aren't unraveling before everyone's eyes and on their way to a spectacular wreck that'll have anyone within view rubbernecking.
Even with the Nets (3-8) mired in an early-season tailspin that has outsiders questioning their resolve and has some vultures already circling coach Jason Kidd, Pierce isn't about to press any kind of proverbial buttons.
Other than the one he hopes launches them in the right direction.
"Nah, no panic. I know we are going to get better," Pierce said after yesterday's practice at UNC Charlotte before they flew to Minnesota to play the Timberwolves (7-6) tonight. "Obviously, it's all talk right now. But we've got to go out there and do it. But I feel confident in this group. It's a lot of positive things going on every day.
"There's no finger pointing. There's no whispering in this locker room. We don't allow that. So, I feel confident this group is going to continue to get better."
It's difficult to be any worse than they were in Wednesday's 95-91 loss to the Bobcats, and that's why the Nets had a screening session some 14 hours after their latest debacle. But this wasn't the type where they plopped down in some plush seats at a movie theater eating popcorn.
If they did, it probably wouldn't have stayed down long. Not after witnessing an uninspiring defensive effort for the umpteenth time, and seeing themselves yield another horrific rebounding disparity, allowing the Bobcats to gain a 41-30 edge. That includes a 17-6 differential in offensive rebounds.
Constantly surrendering second-chance points and allowing the paint to part with ease -- leading to an unsightly amount of layups and dunks -- is a trend that's growing rather old.
"We watched a lot of brutal tape today, which was good for us," Pierce said. "Our biggest problem right now is our communication. Talking to each other on both ends of the court."
Communications breakdowns often lead to a bad chain reaction, creating a domino effect that cripples the Nets' defense. Kidd said it''s all about proper alignment and technique.
"Positioning is a big thing," he said. "Understanding that if you are in the right spot, that starts the process of doing something right, and if you are in the wrong spot, something negative is going to happen. The negative part of being in the wrong spot is giving up offensive rebounds or scores in the paint."
So the Nets trudge on trying to assemble a $100-million plus jigsaw puzzle on the fly, one they believe -- that when healthy -- will still come together beautifully as all the pieces finally begin falling into place.
"Yeah, definitely. We feel like we do fit," Pierce said. "It just takes time, you know? We've got to understand it's still a work in progress and continue to build. We've got to keep taking baby steps."
As he's watched from the outside in a sense, waiting for full clearance to get back into contact mode after suffering through back spasms these past two weeks, Andrei Kirilenko sees his teammates still searching for that right gear. He's also perplexed by these early-season struggles.
"Something is not clicking," Kirilenko said. "We are not getting something. It's probably just those emotions, to get that win and kind of get going from that. We are not playing bad basketball. It's just like some situations, we just completely for five minutes lose, I don't know, focus.
"It's just something. You'll see. As soon as it's ignited, it's going to be unstoppable. But we need to find that, I would say game rhythm, which is kind of try to find out what we need to do offensively, and how we convert that from defense to offense and offense to defense. Both sides."